Not only does this northern Thai city have beautiful mountains and lovely locals, but Chiang Mai is also a paradise for vegan food!
I spent the first 2 months of this year living and working in wonderful Chiang Mai. It’s made a name for itself in recent years as a digital nomad hub and has a large expat community. And the great thing about this? So many incredible places to find vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, raw options- I mean, you can even find a Sunday dinner in the middle of the old city if you wanted!
Whilst eating every day at the local restaurants and markets is definitely the more authentic way to go, this isn’t always possible when you have dietary requirements. So…I’m here with a guide of my favourite vegan-friendly places to head to in Chiang Mai.
Whether you’re just visiting as a tourist or making Chiang Mai your home, I hope this guide will help you out 🙂
(And a quick note: This is by no means all of the vegan-friendly spots in Chiang Mai. Please add them in the comments if you have any favourite places not mentioned here!)
Tucked away on a little side street in the north of the old city, Reform Cafe was one of my favourite places to hang out for a couple of hours and get work done!
They offer both Thai and more western options such as pasta (all vegan of course!). Plus the portion sizes are pretty generous which is always a plus.
Reform is part of a guest house called Green Tiger House which looks like a great place to stay. I think you get a vegan breakfast included. #winning!
Oh boy, Free Bird Cafe does the best smoothies!
If you’re in the Nimman area of Chiang Mai you need yo check out Free Bird. On-site, this social enterprise has zero waste shop, thrift shop and vegan restaurant- it’s awesome!
Yes, it is a little pricey for Thailand, I’d have to admit that. However, this is common for many of the cafes in the trendy Nimman area, plus it supports a great cause (Thai Freedom House).
So…if you fancy some gluten-free pancakes, pad thai, or maybe a superfood bowl you should go and check it out!
It’s a little shameful to admit, but on multiple occasions I ended up at Blue Diamond for breakfast and dinner!
Whilst the name suggests it’s just a breakfast place, they serve so much more! And it’s worthing pointing out here that Blue Diamond isn’t vegan, it’s not even vegetarian, but they cater so well for vegans.
From avocado toast to flaxseed pancakes, and tofu fried rice to curry, you can get it at Blue diamond. The menu is huge (a common theme in South East Asia) but when you end up there most days you get to know it well.
My favourite part of this second home of mine in Chiang Mai is how relaxed it is. You can take your flip flops off and relax on a bean bag next to the pond. Or, like me, you can sit and work while you eat breakfast and feel no pressure to hurry up and move on.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention this! Right where you go to pay is a bakery with a million vegan and gluten-free cakes, bread rolls, croissants and everything yummy in this world. I ate way too many ginger, avocado, cacao muffins during those 2 months in Chiang Mai!
On the north-west side of the old city is Goodsouls Kitchen. This 100% vegan restaurant is a great place to go for both Thai dishes and western food like burgers and falafel.
I have to say, this place does great food and coffee.
As well as the papaya salad and tofu scramble in the photos below, I tried the pesto fried rice once and that was so yummy.
Munchies…it needed to be on the list. I mean, a vegan fast food restaurant in the middle of Thailand?!
I will say though, if you’re gluten-free like me maybe don’t get too excited. One of the only options is the burger and they haven’t quite perfected the GF bun (it was more like a potato cake!). Definitely not Instagram worthy. In honesty, fast food just doesn’t do it for me, too greasy and heavy.
However, if you’re craving a cruelty-free burger or some mac n cheese go to Munchies!
I’ll let their photos do the talking…
I mean, the name pretty much explains what this place is about right?
And I probably wouldn’t have added a salad bar/ restaurant to this list, except they have loads of options for vegans- even a vegan cheese sauce!
You get to build your salad and tick an order sheet of everything you want. And the salads here are big. Yaas!
If you’re feeling a little sluggish from all the delicious Thai food, The Salad Concept is definitely one to check out. I think they have two locations- one near Tha Phae gate and another over in Nimman.
This Khao Soi at Vegan Heaven 2 was the first meal I had in Chiang Mai!
There are 2 locations of Vegan heaven, I’ve only been to the one in the northeast corner of the old city, but I imagine they’re both great.
Vegan heaven does plant-based versions of all your typical Thai dishes and I freakin love this place! It’s inexpensive, the staff are friendly, and it’s so nice to enjoy all the Thai dishes when you have dietary restrictions.
Plus, they have cute quotes up on the walls from all vegan celebrities!
At The Markets
So I know I suggested at the start of this post that the markets in Thailand are probably not a vegan’s best friend. And this is true to some extent. The image of baby chickens turning on a market rotisserie with their heads flopping everywhere is burnt into my memory. It was so disgusting and sickening!
However, if you go to Chaing Mai it would be a great shame not to experience the markets. There are the local daily markets at the gates of the old city where you can experience street food like a local. Then, there are the weekend markets. Oh boy, be prepared! They are incredibly busy but you can find clothes, souvenirs, and of course….amazing Thai food! Totally something to experience at least once.
But what can you eat as a vegan?
First, there is my absolute favourite- Mango Sticky Rice! It’s a bit of a naughty treat food but you can find it at most markets and restaurants in Chiang Mai. Think sweet sticky white rice topped with fresh mango, creamy coconut sauce and sprinkled with mung beans. It’s like a meal in itself!
You’ll also be able to find veggie sushi, fresh fruit, smoothies, veggie spring rolls and some noodle dishes (Although being intolerant to gluten and MSG means I didn’t dare try many of the market options).
At the Saturday south gate market, I found a stall selling edamame and steamed sweet potatoes- that plus my mango sticky rice was quite a meal!
You can always find options as a vegan wherever you go- you just have to be creative with it sometimes 🙂
I hope this post has been helpful for your trip to Chiang Mai. It’s such a beautiful, incredible city and I can’t wait to go back someday. Please comment below if you come across any other amazing vegan places that deserve to be on this list. I’d love to hear about them.
And don’t forget to pin this post for later!